The Dreamers by Karen Thompson Walker
One night in an isolated college town in the hills of Southern California, a first-year student stumbles into her dorm room, falls asleep—and doesn’t wake up. She sleeps through the morning, into the evening. Her roommate, Mei, cannot rouse her. Neither can the paramedics, nor the perplexed doctors at the hospital. When a second girl falls asleep, and then a third, Mei finds herself thrust together with an eccentric classmate as panic takes hold of the college and spreads to the town. A young couple tries to protect their newborn baby as the once-quiet streets descend into chaos. Two sisters turn to each other for comfort as their survivalist father prepares for disaster.
Those affected by the illness, doctors discover, are displaying unusual levels of brain activity, higher than has ever been recorded before. They are dreaming heightened dreams—but of what?
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When Death Becomes Life: Notes from a Transplant Surgeon by Joshua D Mezrich
A gifted surgeon illuminates one of the most profound, awe-inspiring, and deeply affecting achievements of modern day medicine—the movement of organs between bodies—in this exceptional work of death and life that takes its place besides Atul Gawande’s Complications, Siddhartha Mukherjee’s The Emperor of All Maladies, and Jerome Groopman’s How Doctors Think.
At the University of Wisconsin, Dr. Joshua Mezrich creates life from loss, transplanting organs from one body to another. In this intimate, profoundly moving work, he illuminates the extraordinary field of transplantation that enables this kind of miracle to happen every day.
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To Keep the Sun Alive by Rabeah Ghaffari
The year is 1979. The Iranian Revolution is just around the corner, as is a once-in-a-lifetime solar eclipse. Meanwhile, in the northeastern city of Naishapur, a retired judge and his wife, Bibi, run an ancient orchard, growing apples, plums, peaches, and sour cherries, and looking after several generations of family members. The days here are marked by long, elaborate lunches on the terrace and arguments about government corruption and the rise of religious fundamentalism, peppered with tales of ancient Persia that foreshadow the seismic political changes to come. And yet life continues. Bibi, the matriarch, struggles to keep her family together. Her young nephew goes to university, hoping to lead the fight for a new Iran and marry his childhood sweetheart. Another nephew surrenders to opium, while his father longs for a life in Europe. Her brother-in-law evolves into a powerful Islamic cleric while her husband retreats into intellectual reflection. Told through a host of vivid, unforgettable characters, ranging from children to servants to friends of the family, To Keep the Sun Alive is the kind of compelling, rich story that not only informs the past, but also reminds us of the human aspirations that animate historical events.
The Liar’s Room by Simon Lelic
Two liars. One room. No way out. Susanna Fenton has a secret. Fourteen years ago she left her identity behind, reinventing herself as a therapist and starting a new life. It was the only way to keep her daughter safe. But when a young man, Adam Geraghty, walks into her office, claiming he needs Susanna’s help but asking unsettling questions, she begins to fear that her secret has been discovered.
Who is Adam, really? What does he intend to do to Susanna?
The Far Field by Madhuri Vijay
In the wake of her mother’s death, Shalini, a privileged and restless young woman from Bangalore, sets out for a remote Himalayan village in the troubled northern region of Kashmir. Certain that the loss of her mother is somehow connected to the decade-old disappearance of Bashir Ahmed, a charming Kashmiri salesman who frequented her childhood home, she is determined to confront him. But upon her arrival, Shalini is brought face to face with Kashmir’s politics, as well as the tangled history of the local family that takes her in. And when life in the village turns volatile and old hatreds threaten to erupt into violence, Shalini finds herself forced to make a series of choices that could hold dangerous repercussions for the very people she has come to love.
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The Birth of Loud: Leo Fender, Les Paul, and the Guitar-Pioneering Rivalry That Shaped Rock ‘n’ Roll by Ian S. Port
In the years after World War II, music was evolving from big-band jazz into the primordial elements of rock ’n’ roll—and these louder styles demanded revolutionary instruments. When Leo Fender’s tiny firm marketed the first solid-body electric guitar, the Esquire, musicians immediately saw its appeal. Not to be out-maneuvered, Gibson, the largest guitar manufacturer, raced to build a competitive product. The company designed an “axe” that would make Fender’s Esquire look cheap and convinced Les Paul—whose endorsement Leo Fender had sought—to put his name on it. Thus was born the guitar world’s most heated rivalry: Gibson versus Fender, Les versus Leo.
While Fender was a quiet, half-blind, self-taught radio repairman from rural Orange County, Paul was a brilliant but egomaniacal pop star and guitarist who spent years toying with new musical technologies. Their contest turned into an arms race as the most inventive musicians of the 1950s and 1960s—including bluesman Muddy Waters, rocker Buddy Holly, the Beatles, Bob Dylan, and Eric Clapton—adopted one maker’s guitar or another. By the time Jimi Hendrix played “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Woodstock in 1969 on his Fender Stratocaster, it was clear that electric instruments—Fender or Gibson—had launched music into a radical new age, empowering artists with a vibrancy and volume never before attainable.
Talk to Me by John Kenney
It’s a story that Ted Grayson has reported time and time again in his job as a network TV anchor: the public downfall of those at the top. He just never imagined that it would happen to him. After his profanity-laced tirade is caught on camera, his reputation and career are destroyed, leaving him without a script for the first time in years.
While American viewers may have loved and trusted Ted for decades, his family certainly didn’t: His years of constant travel and his big-screen persona have frayed all of his important relationships. At the time of his meltdown, Ted is estranged from his wife, Claire, and his adult daughter, Franny, a writer for a popular website. Franny views her father’s disgrace with curiosity and perhaps a bit of smug satisfaction, but when her boss suggests that she confront Ted in an interview, she has to decide whether to use his loss as her career gain. And for Ted, this may be a chance to take a hard look at what got him to this place, and to try to find his way back before it’s too late.
Mothers: Stories by Chris Power
An extraordinary debut of unnerving beauty, Chris Power’s short story collection Mothers evokes the magic and despair of the essential human longing for purpose.
Chris Power’s stories are peopled by men and women who find themselves at crossroads or dead ends―characters who search without knowing what they seek. Their paths lead them to thresholds, bridges, rivers, and sites of mysterious, irresistible connection to the past. A woman uses her mother’s old travel guide, aged years beyond relevance, to navigate on a journey to nowhere; a stand-up comic with writer’s block performs a fateful gig at a cocaine-fueled bachelor party; on holiday in Greece, a father must confront the limits to which he can keep his daughters safe. Braided throughout is the story of Eva, a daughter, wife, and mother, whose search for a self and place of belonging tracks a devastating path through generations.
Joy Enough: A Memoir by Sarah McColl
From a bracing new voice comes this life-affirming memoir of a daughter making and remaking her life in her mother’s image. Sifting gingerly through memories of her late mother, brilliant newcomer Sarah McColl has penned an indelible tribute to the joy and pain of loving well. Even as her own marriage splinters, McColl drops everything when her mother is diagnosed with cancer, returning to the family farmhouse and laboring over elaborate meals in the hopes of nourishing her back to health. In a series of vibrant vignettes―lipstick applied, novels read, imperfect cakes baked―McColl reveals a woman of endless charm and infinite love for her unruly brood of children.
Mining the dual losses of both her young marriage and her beloved mother, McColl confronts her identity as a woman, walking lightly in the footsteps of the woman who came before her and clinging fast to the joy she left behind. With candor reminiscent of classics like C. S. Lewis’s A Grief Observed, Joy Enough offers a story that blooms with life.
Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love by Dani Shapiro
n the spring of 2016, through a genealogy website to which she had whimsically submitted her DNA for analysis, Dani Shapiro received the stunning news that her father was not her biological father. She woke up one morning and her entire history–the life she had lived–crumbled beneath her.
Inheritance is a book about secrets–secrets within families, kept out of shame or self-protectiveness; secrets we keep from one another in the name of love. It is the story of a woman’s urgent quest to unlock the story of her own identity, a story that has been scrupulously hidden from her for more than fifty years, years she had spent writing brilliantly, and compulsively, on themes of identity and family history. It is a book about the extraordinary moment we live in–a moment in which science and technology have outpaced not only medical ethics but also the capacities of the human heart to contend with the consequences of what we discover.
Hark by Sam Lipsyte
In an America convulsed by political upheaval, cultural discord, environmental collapse, and spiritual confusion, many folks are searching for peace, salvation, and—perhaps most immediately—just a little damn focus. Enter Hark Morner, an unwitting guru whose technique of “Mental Archery”—a combination of mindfulness, mythology, fake history, yoga, and, well, archery—is set to captivate the masses and raise him to near-messiah status. It’s a role he never asked for, and one he is woefully underprepared to take on. But his inner-circle of modern pilgrims have other plans, as do some suddenly powerful fringe players, including a renegade Ivy League ethicist, a gentle Swedish kidnapper, a crossbow-hunting veteran of jungle drug wars, a social media tycoon with an empire on the skids, and a mysteriously influential (but undeniably slimy) catfish.
Code Name: Lise: The True Story of the Woman Who Became WWII’s Most Highly Decorated Spy by Larry Loftis
The year is 1942, and World War II is in full swing. Odette Sansom decides to follow in her war hero father’s footsteps by becoming an SOE agent to aid Britain and her beloved homeland, France. Five failed attempts and one plane crash later, she finally lands in occupied France to begin her mission. It is here that she meets her commanding officer Captain Peter Churchill.
As they successfully complete mission after mission, Peter and Odette fall in love. All the while, they are being hunted by the cunning German secret police sergeant, Hugo Bleicher, who finally succeeds in capturing them. They are sent to Paris’s Fresnes prison, and from there to concentration camps in Germany where they are starved, beaten, and tortured. But in the face of despair, they never give up hope, their love for each other, or the whereabouts of their colleagues.
In Code Name: Lise, Larry Loftis paints a portrait of true courage, patriotism, and love—of two incredibly heroic people who endured unimaginable horrors and degradations. He seamlessly weaves together the touching romance between Odette and Peter and the thrilling cat and mouse game between them and Sergeant Bleicher.
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Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal
In this one-of-a-kind retelling of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Pakistan, Alys Binat has sworn never to marry—until an encounter with one Mr. Darsee at a wedding makes her reconsider.
A scandal and vicious rumor concerning the Binat family have destroyed their fortune and prospects for desirable marriages, but Alys, the second and most practical of the five Binat daughters, has found happiness teaching English literature to schoolgirls. Knowing that many of her students won’t make it to graduation before dropping out to marry and have children, Alys teaches them about Jane Austen and her other literary heroes and hopes to inspire the girls to dream of more. When an invitation arrives to the biggest wedding their small town has seen in years, Mrs. Binat, certain that their luck is about to change, excitedly sets to work preparing her daughters to fish for rich, eligible bachelors.
Something Like Breathing by Angela Readman
It’s the 1950s, and Lorrie is unimpressed when her family moves to the remote Scottish island where her grandad runs a whisky distillery. She befriends Sylvie, the shy girl next door: ‘The slightest smile from Sylvie was a fluffy elephant at the fair. It had to be won with a clear aim,’ writes Lorrie. Yet fun-loving Lorrie isn’t sure Sylvie’s is the friendship she wants to win. As the adults around them struggle to keep their lives on an even keel, the two young women are drawn into a series of events that leave the small town wondering who exactly Sylvie is and what strange gift she is hiding.
You Know You Want This by Kristen Roupenian
From the author of “Cat Person”—“the short story that launched a thousand theories” comes Kristen Roupenian’s highly anticipated debut, a compulsively readable collection of short stories that explore the complex—and often darkly funny—connections between gender, sex, and power across genres.
You Know You Want This brilliantly explores the ways in which women are horrifying as much as it captures the horrors that are done to them. Among its pages are a couple who becomes obsessed with their friend hearing them have sex, then seeing them have sex…until they can’t have sex without him; a ten-year-old whose birthday party takes a sinister turn when she wishes for “something mean”; a woman who finds a book of spells half hidden at the library and summons her heart’s desire: a nameless, naked man; and a self-proclaimed “biter” who dreams of sneaking up behind and sinking her teeth into a green-eyed, long-haired, pink-cheeked coworker.